Campaigns are Ignoring Hispanic Communities, and it’s Costing Them
John Jacobs | May, 2019
With highly diverse states like Florida and Texas in play for the 2020 elections, candidates will be focused on boosting turnout among Hispanic communities (Livingston, 2019). However, with fundraising playing an ever more important role in campaigns, are these candidates doing enough to convince Hispanic people that donating is worth their money? This study will analyze whether Hispanic people make political donations at a lower rate than white people, black people, Asian people, or people of mixed races — And if so, whether it’s due to a lack of outreach by candidates, campaigns, or political organizations.
Research on Hispanic political donation rates is severely lacking. A 2001 study of Chicago aldermanic campaign contributions found that white aldermanic candidates raised four-times the money compared to black or Hispanic candidates, but it’s unclear if this finding is related to the political donation rates of black people or Hispanic people (Hogan, 2001). While Hispanic turnout is a major topic during election season, there is a surprising lack of research on Hispanic political donation rates.
This study will use Harvard’s 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES), a survey of over 65,000 people (Ansolabehere, 2017). The CCES uses a dummy variable to ask respondents whether they have donated to a candidate, campaign, or political organization — and in a sperate question, whether the respondent has been contacted by a candidate, campaign, or political organization (Ansolabehere, 2017). The survey also uses a nominal variable to ask respondents about race and an ordinal variable for income (Ansolabehere, 2017). Nearly 52,000 respondents answered these questions. Because race is self-reported, this study includes respondents that answered that they’re from a Hispanic country of origin as racially Hispanic. The independent variables are race and income class and the dependent variables are donated to and/or contacted by a candidate, campaign, or political organization. We have also excluded the races of “Native American”, “Middle Eastern”, and “Other” because of small sample sizes.
The relationship between donating and contact will be established using gamma. We will also use gamma for the relationship between income-class and donating. This study will use cross-tabulations to compare race and donations, race and contact, and race and income-class distribution.
Table 7, found in the appendix, shows a very strong, positive relationship between political contact and political donations with a gamma of .728. For candidates, campaigns, and political orgs contact is crucial for donations.
Hispanic people donate to candidates, campaigns, and political organizations at a 5.8 percent lower rate than white people and an 8.8 percent lower rate than people of mixed races, but at a 2.2 percent higher rate than black people and a 5.3 percent higher rate than Asian people. Hispanic people are also contacted 11.8 percent less than white people, 5.9 percent less than black people, and 9.7 percent less than people of mixed races — but 11.2 percent higher than Asian people. These relationships are represented in Figure 1 and Table 2 & Table 3 found in the appendix.
As seen in Table 2, higher income classes donate at a higher rate than low-income classes and a gamma of .301 indicates that there is a strong, positive correlation between income class and political donations. However, Table 6 shows that white people and Hispanic people have nearly identical income class distribution, meaning income is not an explanation for lower rates of donations among Hispanic people when compared to white people.
The chi square for all of the tested relationships are above their critical value — income class and political donations (1392.7), income class and political contact (918), race and political donations (319.4), race and political contact (594.4) — therefore we can reject the null hypothesis and there is a relationship between these variables in the population.
While Hispanic people donate to candidates, campaigns, and political organizations at a lower rate than white people, white people are contacted at a much higher rate than Hispanic people. The positive and strong relationship between contact by a candidate, campaign, or political organization and donating to a candidate, campaign, or political organization shows that contact is crucial for donations. The nearly identical income class distributions between white people and Hispanic people means that, while income class is strongly and positively correlated with political donations, income is not an explanation for low Hispanic political donation rates compared to white people.
This study concludes that, in the population, Hispanic communities are woefully under contacted by candidates, campaigns, and political organizations compared to white people, black people, and people of mixed races. To increase the donation rate of Hispanic people, candidates, campaigns, and political organizations should put more effort and resources into Hispanic outreach and initiatives to contact Hispanic communities.
Table 1. Descriptive Statistics
Table 2. Income Class and Donate
Table 2: Chi Square
Table 2: Gamma
Table 3. Income Class and Contact
Table 3: Chi Square
Table 3: Gamma
Table 4. Race and Donations
Table 4: Chi Square
Table 5. Race and Contact
Table 5: Chi Square
Table 6. Race and Income Class
Table 7. Contact and Donate
Table 7: Gamma
Ansolabehere, Stephen; Schaffner, Brian F., (2017). CCES Common Content, 2016.
Dann, C. (2018, October 12). Beto O’Rourke shatters fundraising records with $38 million quarter. Retrieved
Flores, A., & Lopez, M. H. (2018, October 15). Key facts about Latinos in 2018 midterms. Retrieved
Gonzalez-Barrera, A., Krogstad, J. M., Gonzalez-Barrera, A., & Krogstad, J. M. (2018, November
02). Hispanic voters more engaged in 2018 than in previous midterms. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/11/02/hispanic-voters-more-engaged-in-2018-than-in-previous-midterms/
Hogan, S., & Simpson, D. (2001). Campaign Contributions and Mayoral/Aldermanic Relationships:
Building on Krebs and Pelissero. Urban Affairs Review, 37(1), 85–95.
Livingston, A. (2019, April 09). U.S. House Democratic campaign arm to open Austin office,
boosting focus on Texas in 2020. Retrieved from https://www.texastribune.org/2019/04/09/dccc-texas-democrats-2020-office-austin/
Lopez, A. (2018, September 21). The Biggest Hurdle For Beto O’Rourke In Texas Is Turning Out